The BEST Carrot Cake Recipe
This is my favorite recipe for homemade carrot cake! This cake is so easy to make, perfectly moist, and topped with an easy homemade cream cheese frosting.
I feel like carrot cake is a dessert most people tend to only make around Easter. But honestly, carrot cake is such an incredible dessert and I think it should be enjoyed all year long. Especially when it comes to this recipe.
I know it can be a bold statement to call a recipe the best, but I truly mean it with this one. Not only is this cake easy to make, but it’s so incredibly moist and full of flavor that it’s almost impossible to stop at one piece.
Once you realize how easy it is to make a carrot cake from scratch, you’ll want to make it over and over again.
To make this carrot cake, you’ll start by mixing up your dry ingredients. One important thing when measuring out your dry ingredients is to make sure to spoon and level your flour.
You want to avoid packing the flour into the measuring cup, otherwise, you’ll end up with too much in your recipe. Or if you have a food scale, you can also weigh your ingredients to get an accurate measurement.
I also really love some spice in my carrot cake so I use some ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. All three spices add such a wonderful flavor to this cake, but aren’t too overpowering. They really take this cake from good to absolutely amazing, trust me.
For the wet ingredients, you’ll be using some oil, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and applesauce. The amount of oil and applesauce in this recipe adds the perfect amount of moisture, so you end up with a moist cake that isn’t oily.
As always, I use a bit more brown sugar than granulated sugar because it adds more moisture and flavor to this carrot cake. And of course, you’ll also be mixing in some grated carrots. I don’t like to skimp on the carrots when it comes to this recipe, so I use 3 cups of grated carrots.
I know some carrot cake recipes call for raisins or nuts, but I prefer to leave them out because I know that not everyone is a fan of them. However, if you love either one (or both!) feel free to mix some into the batter.
Then it’s all topped off with my favorite cream cheese frosting. Have you tried it yet?! It’s so good and a few of you have already made it and loved it. The store-bought frosting doesn’t even compare to this homemade frosting recipe.
And speaking of the frosting, it makes enough to frost the carrot cake like you see in the pictures. If you really love frosting, then I suggest making a bit more. Enjoy!
Baking Tips for Carrot Cake
- When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- Feel free to use chopped walnuts or pecans in this carrot cake, I suggest using about 3/4-1 cup. If you love raisins in your carrot cake, you may also use 1/2 cup.
The BEST Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the carrot cake:
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (180ml) canola or vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups (300 grams) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (125 grams) unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups (300 grams) grated carrots, lightly packed
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 1 (8-ounce) package brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
To make the carrot cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray two 9-inch round cake pans well with non stick cooking spray (you can also line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper for easier removal) and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, applesauce, and vanilla extract until fully combined. Add the grated carrots into the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk or rubber spatula until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter.
- Pour the cake batter evenly between both prepared cake pans. Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each one comes out clean. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool in the pans for about 20-25 minutes. Once the cakes have cooled, remove from the pans and return the cakes to the wire rack to finish cooling.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for about 30 seconds-1 minute until well combined and smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue mixing until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To assemble the cake:
- Level the tops of each cake with a knife or cake leveler. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand, top with a little over 1/2 cup of the frosting, and smooth it out into one even layer. Place the other cake on top and use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. Top with pecans or other toppings of choice if desired.
Adapted from Better Homes & Garden
To make cupcakes instead of a cake:
Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes. The full recipe will make 24 cupcakes or you can cut the recipe in half to make 12 cupcakes.
If you love pineapple, here’s my favorite recipe for Pineapple Carrot Cake!
I made this carrot cake for a birthday at work and everyone ?. I did use regular buttercream for frosting so I could decorate the shag look. Thanks for the recipe!!!!!
Can you put cream cheese in carrot cake
Do you mean add a layer of cream cheese in the center? Or mix it in?
Will be making this for a baby shower at my school next Friday. What size cake pans do you use? 8″ or 9″? I cannot wait to get my fork into this!!
I used two 9-inch round cake pans 🙂
Does it mean this recipe is for 2 9” pans? I put everything in one and it took much longer to bake
Yes, I mentioned this in step 1 and again in step 5 of the recipe 🙂
THANK YOU for sharing this recipe!! It is wonderful!! I had to substitute using gluten free flour in place of the wheat flour and included a heaping tablespoon of ground flax seed, and it was still amazing!!
Made this for my husband’s birthday. He said it was the best carrot cake he ever had. I added 1/2 C of raisins and only added 1 Cup of powered sugar to the frosting. But we had leftover homemade whip cream from breakfast so I added that. The frosting wasn’t too sweet and worked with the cake so well.
Amazing! Loved every minute making it. I made the apple sauce as this is something that one doesn´t find in Brazil. I cut each cake in half so the cake ended up having 3 layers of filling and I can tell you that it was amazingly the best carrot cake I have ever eaten in my life! Thank you for sharing!
Made this as my BDay cake. Sooo good. 9×13
How long can you store this Refrigerated? Can you also store in the freezer?
You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. It will freeze well for up to 3 months too.
Delicious! I made this recipe exactly as written as cupcakes. Exactly 24, spot on. The frosting is the best I’ve had. So creamy, the perfect sweet. I used one nonstick pan and one aluminum metal pan. The non stick had crispy edges. Cake middle texture was the same with both. The cupcake liners peeled off perfectly. Thank you, great job on this recipe!!
I’ve made this cake twice before, and I just love it!!
If I half this recipe, I can do it in two 6” round pans, right?
Yes, I think that would work!
Hello! Can I use a Bundt pan for this? I would like to make it for my boyfriend tomorrow! 🙂
Yes, that would be fine!
A very moist cake! Yummy!
The best carrot cake recipe ever!
I’ve made it several times now and it always turns out great and everyone loves it! ??
Thank you for sharing this recipe, and you weren’t lying about it, that it’s the best carrot cake and it’s easy, me and my family love it , now it’s our favorite cake ??
I’ve made this carrot cake three times now, and each time everyone raves about it! It is SO good!
I subbed Apple sauce for 1/2 the oil, added more spices (ginger, Cardamom, nutmeg) and per my kids request replaced raisins with 1/2 cup each of chocolate chips and dried cherries. I was a little nervous with their requests but it turned out delicious!!
I love this carrot cake recipe, the applesauce really makes a big difference, not oily at all. Delicious!!! I’ve made it twice now.
Made this as cupcakes on the weekend. I swapped the wheat flour for pumpkin seed flour, added 50g sultanas & 100g walnuts in the batter, and then I used only 1 cup powdered sugar in the cream cheese frosting. Super tasty and moist, and definitely sweet enough. The pumpkin seed flour gave it a nutty flavour which worked well with the carrots and walnuts.
I’m really looking forward to making your carrot cake tomorrow for my dad’s 80th birthday on Saturday. He is T2 diabetic, but Carrot cake is his fav. So I just wanted to double check this is truly zero net carbs and zero fat. Thanks!
Sorry, Sherry – this recipe has quite a bit of carbs and fat in it. I don’t recommend making it if that’s what your looking for. Maybe you confused it with another recipe?
Very delicious cake and easy to make.
Can I do this in a 1/2 sheet cake Pan?
Yes, I think that would be fine. You may need to adjust the baking time though.
Absolutely delicious! Family raved about it said it was the best they ever had. The only issue I had was that the cake sunk in the middle (I made a 9×13), after taking out of the oven, not sure what happened. Still tasted good though! I also added raisins which was a great add in. Thank you!
BEST carrot cake recipe ever! I have a 8 x12 inch pan. Would this recipe work well in it as well?
Yes, I think it would work. If you have any extra batter, you could use it to make a few cupcakes.
Very pleased with the outcome. Everyone said it was fantastic. The frosting was really good. I cut out a little powdered sugar but I try to do that with most recipes.
I made this Carrot Cake for my church as a trial run to see what everyone thought because I have to make a carrot cake for our Pastor for his birthday (carrot cake being his favorite). This cake was gone in about 20 minutes with so many compliments. Everyone LOVED it. I’m making it again today!! This will be my go to Carrot Cake recipe forever. Thank you so much!!
Oh my goodness, this is absolutely yummy especially on the 2nd or 3rd day! I just made this cake for my hubby’s bday n he said it was the best cake I have ever made! I wish I could show you it. I made him a layered cake, the top like a jack-o-lantern and the sides like a tree with Halloween sprinkles at the base like fallen leaves n sticks. It came out professional looking and super tasty! I did double the cream cheese frosting recipe so that I’d have enough to frost a 1/4″-1/2″ thick center, the whole cake and for extra decorations. My husband and family loved this cake, it is truly deliciously moist and I will be making it from now on! Thank you so much for this recipe as it is the absolute bomb! ??
I absolutely love this carrot cake… I baked it so many times I could do it with my eyes closed … however the last three times I have baked it … the sponge has flopped whilst baking in the oven … please can you tell me what I am doing wrong … thank you ?
Are you doing anything differently? Making any adjustments to the recipe? Using a different oven or pans?
I wonder if it’s okay to sub the apple puree for carrot puree for more carrot flavour?
I think that would be fine.
The best ever!!! Made this 2 years ago and my husband loved it for his birthday!!
In my younger years, I used to make this for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your recipe is very similar to mind.